The New Women

In today’s presentation, we had the opportunity of analyzing Ella D’Arcy’s short story “At Twickenham”, and Evelyn Sharp “The Restless River”. I found these two texts in comparison really interesting to one another because on hand we are presented with D’Arcy’s story where the two main characters, who are both sisters, Minnie and Loetita. The girls are characterized throughout the narrative as being detached and lacking luster. This is made evident by the remarks said by Corbette, which demonstrates that he struggles to marry a woman who has no passion, desire, or inclined towards life. The girls are portrayed as inanimate objects, that are lifeless, empty vessels. The girls seem to fit into the room with furniture and they become a part of the domestic space to a point where they represent the extreme disassociation of systemic oppression.

However, in the fairytale “The Restless River” we are presented with an alternative universe where Sharp has been able to flip the gender roles of the typical kingdom narrative. The characterization of the prince and the queen are the most prominent in the story, with the queen being the powerful, controlling, and harsh ruler of the land, whereas the son is emotional, kept hiding away, and is forced to marry a princess. I think that Sharp was trying to mock the stereotypical gender norms at the time but almost emphasizing and forcing the reader to consider this parallel universe. The son is seeking rebellion, and he desires to marry the women of his choice, however, there his life seems to be already planned for him.

Both these stories seem to offer a social critique of Victorian gender roles and they emphasize in different ways the circumstances that women find themselves in went they are forced into an unchosen, belittling and unfulfilling life. The mediums, such as the short story and the fairytale, take different tones in their approach to the self-reflexive critique, one of sadness and pity, and another of reimagination.


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